THERE was an unwelcome surprise for residents in the Seatown area of Gardenstown last Friday when they discovered their gardens submerged in a sea of mud following a landslide.
This is the second incident in nine years, and although not as bad as in 2001, when mud engulfed two houses, the same homes have landed up with soil from Fernie Brae in their gardens, and a right of way has been left impassable.
Aberdeenshire Council say they have visited the site and are trying to establish who owns the land where the slip came from.
Angry residents, however, claim that all their pleas to clear the sludge which is blocking the path have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Seatown resident Pat Wain said that seven years ago after the first landslip, residents had contacted the council, asking them to come and clear the Quarry Path.
She added: "I was shown a map by the council that indicated the path was a recognised right of way, but they did not see it as an obstruction, so no assistance was given."
Residents were left having to clear up the path, which is the only safe exit from Seatown during high tide and gales.
It took them from Easter to the summer to complete the clean-up operation.
Mrs Wain said: "As the weather got warmer it got harder, and I had to take a pick-axe to it to clear it, which was quite laborious.
"Thankfully, Seatown residents have a strong community spirit.
"The detritus was removed by the barrel load on the last occasion, and people are already banding together to clear the right of way again."
The landslide is believed to have been triggered by the thawing of the recent snow. Mud knocked through the fence of one house, wrecking the owner's garden, and it is one foot away from the windows of their neighbour's house.
Nine houses are affected by the path being blocked.
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: "Our officers have visited the site and are working to identify who owns the land above the slip.
"Once we have confirmed who the owner is, we will contact them and update residents affected."